05 June 2008

the solution is simple

Alain Robert (aka The French Spiderman) and Brooklynite Renaldo Clarke scaled the New York Times building today for related causes: Robert, in honor of World Environment Day (and against global warming) and Clarke for Malaria No More. Each of the men donned t-shirts promoting the causes. According to The Solution Is Simple (Robert's cause), global warming kills more people than 9/11 every week. They were both arrested for their actions. Check out the slide show on NYT. (Photo by Lucas Jackson, Reuters)

locavores, log in!

When I can't get to my local farmer's market on Saturdays, I get a little cranky. It means I won't have access to local produce until the following week, so I have to resort to the fruits and veggies at the supermarket which are shipped in from California, Canada, Mexico, or even New Zealand (though I try to find the stuff that's grown closest to home, if possible).

I wanted to join a local CSA (community supported agriculture), but the ones in my area are all booked up for the year.

But wait, what's this? An article from the New York Times telling me I can just get on the ol' interweb to get my local produce fix? I can't help but picture Farmer Bob sitting on his tractor, MacBook in lap, waiting to fulfill orders from urbanites such as myself. But I guess it makes sense, in an age where lots of people get their groceries delivered via Fresh Direct and other such services.

These local-food-via-internet distributors are sproutin' up all over the country. There's Spud on the West Coast. And Natural Direct in Illinois. In Texas, there's Greenling. And right here in NYC, there's Urban Organic. There's also My Personal Farmers, which serves parts of NY state (like Westchester) and CT.

What they provide you with is a weekly delivery of fresh farm products, the season determines what goes in it, you determine the amount delivered, based on the size of your household. Some of the services also provide meat, dairy, and other products like honey. They also offer up recipes tailored to what's in your basket for a given week.

The one thing I'd miss is actually picking out the goods myself, and being able to talk to the farmers directly like I do at the farmer's market. But at least I'd know I'm supporting local agriculture, which means fresher, more nutritious produce; less carbon burnt; keeping family farms in business (as opposed to supporting agribusiness); and sustaining the local economy.

denim sale @ kaight

eco vans

A little over a year ago, I stopped buying apparel made in China. There are numerous reasons, but it was mainly an environmentally driven decision. But I've found that I've needed to make a few exceptions, and in those cases, my decisions were also environmentally driven.

Like the clothing company Nau, who sadly is closing up shop. Their efforts to run a sustainable business using materials that were either recycled or organic or just responsibly sourced were inspiring. Their designs and attention to detail were impeccable. And they gave a portion of sales profits to the charity of your choice. But a lot of their clothes were made in China, Thailand, and other Eastern countries. Sometimes ya gotta bend the rules, even your own.

It's also really hard to find shoes that aren't made overseas. Again, one needs to make exceptions. Luckily, companies like Vans are starting to make their shoes out of sustainable materials. You can get the classic slip-on which has hemp infused gum rubber outsoles and water-based glues and inks to make them a bit more eco-friendly. They also make vegan shoes without any animal products.

Here are some other companies making responsible kicks:
terra plana
beyond skin

5 actions you can take right now

1. Slow global warming: Urge your senators to push for clean energy
2. Protect children from airborne lead with stricter EPA standards
3. Stop mountaintop removal coal mining
4. Save Yellowstone and The Greater Rockies from coal mining
5. Stop the clock on species extinction

The endangered Philippine eagle

Mountaintop removal coal mine in WV
(Vivian Stockman)

afternoon web scan

Happy World Environment Day!

how much good would good wood do?

One of the biggest contributors to climate change is deforestation. And if we don't pay attention to the labeling on things like paper products (tp, napkins, stationery), building materials, or furniture, we won't know if we're contributing, too.

When my boyfriend and I were renovating our kitchen last year, one of my criteria for cabinets was that they be made from FSC-certified wood (The Forest Stewardship Council is an independent organization that certifies if manufacturers of tree-based products are sourcing materials from sustainably managed forests). We did some initial shopping at big box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot. When I'd ask the sales people if they had any cabinets available in FSC-certified wood, they didn't know what the heck I was talking about. So we had to do some research.

Luckily, we found Neil Kelly Cabinets. We really expected that their prices would take us way over budget, since their cabinets are FSC certified and contain low to no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But we got an estimate. Surprisingly, their prices were on par with those at the big box stores. The un-eco-friendly part is that we had them shipped from the West Coast. (Can you say huge carbon footprint? Well, I guess it's smaller than if we would have ordered cabinets made in China).

They're not only responsibly made, they look really great, too.

When buying any wood or paper products, look for the FSC seal.

Pledge to buy good wood here.